Students tune in to politics

Though Tuesday’s presidential debate was held in Long Island, N.Y., students witnessed its live coverage in the auditorium of the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library.

The Student Government Association, the UH chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Honors College Policy Debate team sponsored a debate watch party — held in Rockwell Pavilion for students who wished to see President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney spar in the political arena, once again.

This particular event comes at a time when the SGA is seeking to increase the level of political activity within the University.

“At the beginning of the year, President (Cedric) Bandoh made it very clear to me that he wanted to be more active, not only within the community but also within the university,” said SGA Director of External Affairs Mark Solano. “We were lucky enough to be in administration during a national election year so we took this opportunity to make sure our students are informed.”

The event also featured a discussion in front of the televised debate. The discussion panel included student leaders representing the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian presidential nominees who responded to questions about issues like education and the economy.

“It was refreshing to see Gary Johnson and the Libertarian party acknowledged for once,” said nutrition junior Heidi Bouzas. “Though he won’t be featured on tonight’s debate, I feel obligated to watch as this does pertain (to) my future and I think more students should be aware of that.”

Some believe that by discussing the issues beforehand in a group setting makes the debate’s subject matter relatable.

“It’s good for students to hear their peers talk about subjects that are politically relevant, in ways students can more easily understand,” said Neimon James, Political Action Chair of the UH NAACP and a member of the panel.

Some students agreed that the quality of the debate, and Obama’s approach, improved since the first on Oct. 3.

“Obama did a good job recognizing his faults in the previous debate; he seems more prepared and even aggressive at times,” said kinesiology junior Nayda Sanchez. “I support him, so seeing it not so one-sided anymore is pretty encouraging.”

The tension between the candidates was an entertaining spectacle, indicated by the frequent burst of cheers and laughter from the audience.

“I want Romney to win, but Obama stood his ground this time,” said biology senior Rose Nguyen. “It seemed like at times they were shouting at each other — subtly insulting each other — it was pretty funny but at the same time still informative.”

Bandoh hopes that after viewing the debate, students will have a better understanding of the issues surrounding the election and that students will become more politically active.

“I hope after this people will be clear on where the two candidates stand and will be motivated to vote on Election Day,” said Bandoh. “I would also like to thank all the students for coming out, it was a great showing of our community on campus and also thanks to everyone involved and I hope to host more events like this in the future.”

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